Mother, We Shall Not Forget

For Mother, they came with hatred where there was love
For they came for blood where there was compassion
For they came with vengeance where there was none
For they danced with jubilation at the deeds they’d done

For Mother, the blood spilled was that of our kin
For the bullets that were sprayed hit us all
For the sorrow of the weeping widows permeates walls
For their children orphaned were no less ours.

For Mother, we worship you like every child does
For the blows they dealt you was a needle through our hearts
For we will not let anyone scar your hallowed soil again
For those sitting across the Line never felt the pain.

In tribute to the martyrs of 26/11.

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Posted in India | Tagged | 4 Comments

Where Have All The Indians Disappeared?

India, a-la-Thackeray et al

The recent verbal attacks by Bal Thackeray on Sachin Tendulkar have been subject to a lot of criticism, and a lot of severe criticism. Similar retaliation was seen when Raj Thackeray laid siege on the fame of Amitabh Bachchan, and before that, too, when Raj’s men beat up Biharis writing the Railways’ Recruitment Test in Maharashtra. These events are very disturbing to me personally, because I’ve grown up in Delhi, the national capital, and still call it home. In that city, everyone is from everywhere, as a friend puts it. There are no indigenous people, and likewise, there are no outsiders. Regionalism is something we learnt about only in our Social Studies class, and even then, it was only a term. Traveling away from home after finishing school, I did notice subtle boundaries between the regions of our country, but I doubt these have ever been made so daunting by the open politicization of regionalism we are seeing today.

Xenophobia is something that is innate in all humans. And, in a multicultural, multilingual country like ours, it is but certain that people from different ethnic backgrounds will have some level of discomfort mixing freely with each other. But at length, they blend in, augmented by the feeling that they are all Indians, after all. Unity in diversity, as all of us were taught in school. However, it seems our politicians are now learning to tap this potential for misleading the electorate by singing the exact opposite. And the electorate, disillusioned by the apparent damage to their identity dealt by ‘outsiders’, rush to support these new-age separatists. So disillusioned this said patriotism is, that these people forget that they are Indians first and foremost, and that their ethnicity (Marathi, Kashmiri, Bengali, etc) are only secondary. And so disillusioned their leaders are with winning votes, that they do not have any idea what seeds they might be planting.

Yes, separatist is exactly the term. What else would you call people who threaten and beat up their own countrymen just because of their ethnicity? And who knows, what these xenophobic tendencies could lead to if unchecked. Remember the Balkans in the 90’s? We already have separatist groups for Kashmir and the Northeastern states. Those subtle boundaries between the ethnic regions of India are suddenly becoming more and more distinct. It chills my bones to imagine what would happen if this regionalism morphs into fanaticism. Maybe this is too far-fetched, but what we’re seeing today really is the first sign of the collapse of a nation. Something which is even more chilling, given that Raj Thackeray is part of the new generation, and so are many of his supporters. I’m certain that I’ll never sell my vote to regionalism, but I’m worried many of my contemporaries will. I sincerely hope my fears are unfounded, and that Indians remain Indians. Jaya He.

(Map represents not the official international boundaries, but merely the territory that is administered by the Goverment of India)

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

“Good evening. Tata Indicom.”

“Yeah, hi. My number is :blah: and I’m a Photon 1x subscriber.”

“Yes sir, how may I help you?”

“I can’t connect to the internet since morning.”

“You have been disconnected because of non-payment of dues.”

“(F***)”

Posted in Journal | 2 Comments

The Equilibrium of Money and Fun

work-fun-eqb

During those four years of undergrad engineering studies, each one of us had created a Utopian World in our minds. A World we were sure we would step into after bidding goodbye to our coursebooks. A World of boundless money and endless fun. So obsessed we were with this dream, that many of us (moi included) abandoned the very coursebooks that were supposed to lead us to this said Utopia. As the saying went, “Job toh mast waali lag hi jaayegi yaar, kya padhke dimaag kharaab karna?” (“What’s the point in studying when we’re gonna get a job anyway?”). In the end, that philosophy did turn out to be true, but once we stepped out into that World, so to speak, we realized that the Utopia really didn’t exist. Rather it was another Murphy’s Law which we learnt was applicable universally: that which is illustrated above.

You know it’s true if you’re a working professional, and if you’re still one in the making (technically speaking, that is), you’ll realize this soon enough. A lot of money and a lot of fun cannot co-exist in life. They simply can’t. The reason is simple: the more you earn, the faster your life becomes. Unwinding does not remain much of an option. Things you imagined you’d do every day become a once-in-a-while indulgence, and the much-touted luxuries of life become part of the mundane. And if you’re on the other side of the equilibrium, you might have a lot of time to enjoy life as you know it, but your wallet would be proportionately thinner. And if you’re in that equilibrium zone like I am, with enough money and enough time, you’ll be far, far away from the madding crowd you want to be part of.

The truth is, there is no Utopia we dream of in our college days. Indeed, now that I’m working, I know that the real Utopia was the college I which thought was a mere stepping stone. When we make the transition from academics to work, we simply must adapt to the changed circumstances. And we end up doing that, as the sands of time mould our thoughts, preferences and dreams in the direction of the real world. And that is the essence of finding happiness in what you do. Those who work high-paying, high-load jobs end up finding happiness in exactly that. And those with slimmer paychecks and more time end up enjoying the finer aspects of life. Needless to say, I’m happy too, happy with where I am right now. Initially, there are certain things we all dislike about our new lives, but gradually we grow up and understand that the grass is always greener on the other side of the meadow. Cheers.

Posted in Career, Life | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Klueless 5 Levels 1 Through 20: Them Klues For Them Clues

Now this is impressive. Really, really impressive. It had been eons since I’d used a considerable portion of my ample grey cells. I’d almost forgotten the feeling of triumph that used to overwhelm me when a stubborn Irodov problem, or one of those Level III FIITJEE meanies, finally gave way. Klueless 5 developed by the Ahvan team down at IIM Indore rekindled that sensation, and forced my dormant neurons to become conductors. I’ve spent half a day on it now, and I’d say you won’t need LSD after Klueless overcomes you. Going through it, however, is extremely tough, and I’ll do some social service here by laying down hints from level 1 to level 20. Please note that I’m in no mood to give away answers; I’ve worked pretty hard to get them, and it’s more of a social service if I let your brain do the work. Let the light of brilliance shine on, shine on.

For the completely uninitiated, Klueless is a game of riddles which can not only work your brain around in ways you never imagined, but also cause previously-unseen cases of emotional and, if you’re that addicted, physiological disturbances. Now that you’re nervous enough, you’re good to go. To start, go to the Klueless Start Page. Make sure you read all the instructions carefully, as they are prerequisites to solve the riddles.

Level 1: Your must not have read the instructions properly. Bad.
Level 2: Find what’s beneath and take it above and beyond.
Level 3: Look at the page title. Maroon. What do you generally find when you’re marooned on an island? What would you think if I told you the text within the picture was written over a week? What did the hint in the page source say, and what link can you find between that hint and the text? And what are search engines for?
Level 4: Ever seen at the drawings in those school geometry books where a cube was drawn, and you could imagine seeing the cube from two different perspectives: a common optical illusion? So look closely, and when you get the one that eludes you, combine it with the source code hint and search. It helps if you’re a Queen fan, but only slightly.
Level 5: Look at the title. You’re not a fan of hip-hop music, are you? Worry not, it’s just a matter of following the URL. Don’t be mislead by it, though, for it gives you a ticket to a long journey when your destination is right there.

Level 6: This level really didn’t deserve to be on Klueless. But you can’t blame them, they’re probably trying to test if you can apply common sense. Simply search for, and search, the quotation in the source.
Level 7: This is a dead giveaway: T9.
Level 8: You know this is a place. Wiki it, and you’ll find the exact same picture. Spot the difference, and smell the Spice.
Level 9: The animal is the answer, but your pet rodent is the only way you can do this. No, not Jerry, darn!
Level 10: The URL says: extra. So find out what’s extra in the ‘extra’ and make it similar to the whole.
Level 10B: It’s not Sherlock Holmes: the silhouette smokes a  cigarette instead of a cigar. Now you know by instinct who was the culprit. You just need to find the archaic term for it, and you’re, er, almost there. Once you get it, you’ll need to do the same exact thing you did while going from 10 to 10A.

Level 11: You know the goriest bloodbath in history. Yes you do. But do you know it was caused by a kid? Well, not literally, but a kid.
Level 12: Google Google Google.
Level 13: Check this out. It’s the video. Now Google and search for the little guy’s pals.
Level 14: Just answer the chat. That’s all there is to it. Of course, there’s only one answer.
Level 15: This is a piece of genius. Did you know about the Stormtrooper effect? And did you also know that those dots on the dice don’t indicate anything you could see if you could really read them? I know the hint is too cryptic, but this is a piece of genius, and any direct clue would be a shame.

Level 16: We all have done this. Reading comics in the math or art classes. Now if you would’ve looked up on the board on both occasions, this one should be a cakewalk. If you never did such a thing, and never read anything other than course books, I’d suggest you stop wasting your time and read theoretical physics.
Level 17: Contrary to what you might read on the forum, you don’t need to be a Kaminey fan. All you need is to Wiki the title and the distinct one. Of course, there’s a jump you need to make, but that’s easy if you know the little brother of the distinct one.
Level 18: Watched No Man’s Land?
Level 19: The first two lines talk about an entity you will learn about if you crack this level. The next two lines talk about an instrument. The source hint gives you directions on the compass. Simply follow the directions. No you don’t have to leave the chair and go walkabout, but maybe your fingers could do the same on a very nearby citadel. Combine the footsteps of your fingers with the title, and Wiki it. Voila!
Level 20: You must change your perspective. Or jump up and down. But before that you’ll need to change your perspective about jumping up and down. And after that you can use Wiki and your Bingo skills to generate the leftover eight. And from the leftover eight you’ll get to the special three. Now what’s special? Search search seach!

Any doubts may be expressed in the form of comments. But don’t expect me to let the hard work done by Team Ahvan go to waste. For clues after Level 20, you can look in the forums. I’ve given you sufficient help to create an addiction, I hope. Get cracking!

Posted in Science | Tagged , , | 82 Comments

My New Speakers: Altec Lansing VS2621

altec lansing vs2621

My New Speakers

They’re here. The basic requirement of any music aficionado, especially one inclined towards hard rock and metal. Of course, there are better, and larger, speakers out there, but 2.1 is enough if you’re living in a bachelors’ hostel, and more than enough if those 2.1 speakers are Altec Lansings. The sound is superb (by sound I mean the blast, of course) and the design is sexy (they really look out-of-place in my messy room). At 3k, they were quite easy on the pocket, and right now as I play Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love, they’re giving me that strange sort of satisfaction buying things with your own money gives.

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PGI Death: Why The Prime Minister Is No Ordinary Citizen

During our school days, in our civics (introductory political science) class we were taught that in a republic, the Prime Minister is an ordinary citizen at par with any other citizen, his job being to serve the nation by literally running it. However, as kid I knew before I went to school that even petty political figures in India stand way above in the societal hierarchy here. A classic example was illustrated yesterday, when a 32-year-old man with a critical kidney condition arrived at the PGI Chandigarh, a top-rated med college. However, the Prime Minister was speaking on the college’s Convocation ceremony, and his security crew denied the man entry to the Emergency ward. By the time he was granted the permission to battle death, he had lost it.

The death is tragic and unfortunate, but it only bares naked the flaws in our political system. A photograph which made it to the front page of a top Delhi newspaper comes to mind: A picture of Tony Blair gesturing playfully because he was standing in a subway coach; all the other seats were occupied. I’m not a fan or critic of Tony Blair, but it just went to show that the people in the coach regarded their PM as one of them, and vice-versa. Now, what would happen if an ordinary politician, a Neta, were to board a Metro in Delhi? A battalion of bodyguards will turn the station into a warzone, frisking everyone and shooing off the passengers in the coach their boss will sit in. All as an extreme publicity stunt; Netas in India are generally provided with on-call helicopters, even if the helicopter was supposed to be rescuing policemen being ambushed by rebel guerillas.

The Prime Minister has since apologized for this unfortunate incident. The kind of person he is, he probably was disturbed by all that happened. But the truth is, such events really are common in this part of the world. It’s only this event that has come into the limelight. There is an invisible dividing line between the rulers and the ruled, something which we inherited from the colonial times, and which sixty years of democracy has not been able to smudge. It becomes distinct on occasions, when a candidate begs for votes from the poor, and shoos them away when the poor elect him to the Parliament. It becomes distinct when anybody openly criticizing the Government is branded a rebel and is put behind bars. And it becomes distinct when letting a critically ill common man into the Emergency is deemed as a security risk for one from the ruling class.

Posted in India | Tagged , , | 2 Comments